Snow play areas in the Sierra provide fun for practically anyone. Sledding. Tubing. Cross-country skiing. Epic snowball fights. . . Whatever your age or abilities, you can find your winter delight. Many areas offer groomed tube runs, lifts, refreshments, and warming facilities. Check ahead if you want to rent snow toys—sleds, toboggans, tubes, plastic saucers. With all these choices, you can have a ball for relatively little money.
Sierra Resorts with Snow Play
Bear Valley Cross Country and Adventure Company
Cross-country area has sledding and tubing hills for ages 3 and up. Cost: from $15 for sledding; from $25 for tubing; from $5 non-sledders/tubers. (Cost includes use of sled or tube). Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hwy. 4, 45 miles northeast of Angels Camp.
Boreal has a playland tubing area with groomed tubing lanes and moving carpet. Cost: $49 for a 1.5-hour session, Snowplay Ticket for observers is $10 (includes tube and access to tubing carpet). I-80 at Castle Peak Exit on Donner Summit.
Granlibakken has a groomed sled hill that's ideal for younger kids—kids under three sled for free with an adult. From $25, includes plastic sled/saucer and a 90 minute session. Sledding is open daily throughout the season, and guests staying at the lodge get 50 percent off sledding and lift tickets. Just south of Tahoe City on Granlibakken Rd.
Leland's snow play area covers 12 acres, with two groomed, lift-served sled hills for various ages. All-day tickets are $25 to $49 depending on height and day of the week, and sleds/saucers are included. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Near Dodge Ridge, 6 miles east of Strawberry on Highway 108.
The groomed snow play area with a lift is near Sierra-at-Tahoe's main lodge and has two tubing lanes with gentle run-outs for a smooth, comfortable stop. Tickets includes tube and 2-hours of downhill fun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Children under 42-inches are free with a paying adult. Open days depend on weather and conditions. South Lake Tahoe off U.S. 50.
Soda Springs Mountain Resort
In Soda Springs Mountain Resort's Tube Town, a groomed tubing area, the resort has a 400-foot surface lift, serving 10 long flumes with twists and banked turns. A separate, slower-paced zone, called Planet Kids, is suitable for small children. Tickets must be purchased online in advance, from $39 for all day. Open times and days depend on weather and conditions. 1 mile east of I-80 at Soda Springs Exit.
Palisades Tahoe's snow tubing area has 3-plus lanes (more during the holidays) located at the base of the mountain. Cost is $42 for 55 minutes on weekdays, $54 on weekends and blackout dates, and includes lift access and a tube. Must be at least 40-inches tall to ride. Hours are dependent on weather and conditions. 9 miles northwest of Tahoe City, off Hwy. 89.
The groomed sledding hill at Tahoe Donner has multiple monitored tubing (when weather permits) and sledding lanes. Online reservations are required. Cost for the public is $20–30 for each one hour and 15 minute session. Cost for Tahoe Donner guests is $10–20. Open times vary, call ahead or check website. Northwoods Blvd., 1/2 mile off I-80 at Donner Pass Road Exit.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Wolverton Snowplay Area
The Wolverton Snowplay Area has an ungroomed sled hill without a lift or rentals. There are rentals, snacks, and snow play items at Wuksachi Lodge, 3 miles north of Wolverton Road. Use of the hill is free. 82 miles east of Fresno in Sequoia National Park.
Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area Snow Tubing
This Yosemite play area has snow tubing (but no sledding) for all ages; kids under 4 must have an adult with them. Tickets are $24 a person for each 2 hour session. Sessions run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Open December–April depending on conditions. Big Oak Flat Road on Hwy. 120.